The Slatest

Kentucky Attorney General Agrees to Release Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Tapes

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron delivers a live address in front of a Trump/Pence podium to the virtual 2020 Republican National Convention in August.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has justified the police’s use of deadly force, making him a Republican darling. Above, he speaks at the Republican National Convention in August. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he would release the tapes of the grand jury proceedings that ultimately led to no charges being filed against the two officers believed to be responsible for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. The grand jury decided against charging the officers last week after Cameron, a young Black rising star in the Republican Party, presented the prosecution’s case against the officers. The Republican attorney general’s framing of events led the 12-person grand jury to choose not to charge the officers for the death of Taylor.

As additional evidence has trickled out, it has become clear that there is significant uncertainty about what exactly transpired during the raid of Taylor’s apartment. How exactly did Cameron describe the sequence of events that played out during the raid? Grand jury deliberations are secret, but one of the jurors filed a motion Monday to make public the tapes of the proceedings after taking issue with how Cameron has described the grand jury proceedings that arrived at the conclusion not to charge. “Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them,” the juror’s filing states. “The only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they ‘agreed’ with his team’s investigation that [two officers] were justified in their actions.”

Cameron had presented the grand jury’s findings not to charge as further corroborating evidence of what his office presented as a lawful operation during which unfortunate circumstances led to a tragic mishap. “While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed—and the grand jury agreed—that [Officers] Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said during a news conference last week.

The grand jury, however, was not even presented with the possibility of charging the two officers who fatally shot Taylor—Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove—just Detective Brett Hankison for firing into a neighboring apartment. A lawyer for the juror told the New York Times that the juror “was unsettled by the fact that the grand jury was not given an option of charging the two officers at a time when the community has been roiled by demonstrations seeking their indictment. The 12-member panel was presented only with possible charges for Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June.”

The juror’s motion said the attorney general was using the jurors “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.” “The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body,” Cameron said in a statement. “It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.” Cameron said that releasing the tapes could compromise ongoing investigations into the matter, including the federal probe. “Despite these concerns, we will comply with the Judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” Cameron said.